As we all know, the 2017 Summer Solstice has come and gone, but in its wake – left long, warm days and magical, starry nights filled with fun, outdoor possibilities along with the fleeting memories of childhood.
For some, however, experiencing the joys of nature has become little more than an afterthought - wedged between busy schedules of work, parenting and other obligations.
During this time of year, I love wrapping myself within the big, green comforter of the out-of-doors.
More than any other season, the explosive energy surging through a summertime woodland like Jeffrey Woods is truly remarkable.
1. Don’t Run Through It
For me, this means more of a stroll, a saunter or even a waddle. It's surprising what you'll discover when scaling back or eliminating the "ready-set-go approach. The tortoise knew the advantage of pacing himself.
Please! Stop often, stand a lot and look at nothing and at everything.
Look up, down, sideways and backwards. It’s remarkable the different scenery that comes into view with every new perspective.
Just recently, my husband and I briefly paused on a Jeffrey Woods’ path to look at the dappled sunlight coming through the treetop canopy. There was no particular reason we stopped where we did, but without warning a rustle in the leaf litter a few feet away revealed a wobbly-legged newborn fawn - no more than an hour or two old.
I guess patience truly is a virtue.
At the risk of sounding a little woo-wooish, this one is both simple and important.
DIY Instructions: Take several moments on your walk to simply stand, inhale, exhale and recognize that you too are a living, breathing part of the environment.
I imagine doing this is similar to what meditation experts feel as they lose themselves into something bigger, and ... nature is certainly one of those "bigger" things.
Humans are so reliant on sight for obvious reasons. It gets us where we want to go, keeps us safe, helps us see so much beauty and about a billion other reasons.
A nature walk, particularly in the woods, is a great time to focus on the other senses of smell, touch, sound and even intuition.
It's surprising the amount and variety of intrusive noises (like cars, planes, ice cream truck chimes, lawn mowers, etc.) we accept as normal in our outdoor and even woodland environments.
Take a moment to identify what sounds make the experience more fun and relaxing.
When visiting Jeffrey Woods, be sure to enjoy the music that huge sycamore leaves make in a summer breeze, the babbing sounds of Alum Creek and the bursts of shimmering light and color bouncing off the water. (Free entertainment at its best.)
There’s so much woodland enchantment just waiting to be discovered, so use all your senses and don’t be discouraged if not every walk reveals a deer, fox or bird of prey.
You’ve heard this before and it definitely holds true for nature walks as well.
Visit often and at different times. I personally like morning and evening walks. My favorite time in the woods, however, is during a light rain. Always magical!!
The truth is, every part of any 24-hour day features an entirely different vision of Jeffrey Woods and its abundant plant and animal life.
On sunny days, the woods are full of golden orbs of sun, chirping birds and bouncy squirrels.
The gathering darkness welcomes feelings of veiled and eerie mystery. It’s the perfect time to see deer, racoons, fox, possums and listen to the goodnight songs of birds.
And later - with no illumination except the stars, moon and streetlights - nature explorers will enjoy the fluorescent show of tiny fireflies, the jaw-dropping acrobatics of bats and the spooky hoots & hollers of woodland owls.
And all this - under the peering eyes of a dimly-lit Jeffrey Mansion overlooking the meadow and woodland. Always a "Yikes" moment.
a great opportunity to visit morning, noon and night.
Shed your layers of grown-up-ness and view the wonders of nature with a childlike heart and vision.
"Do not grow old, no matter how long you live.
Never cease to stand like curious children before the Great Mystery into which we were born." ~ Albert Einstein
Whether big, small, near or far - I've always enjoyed the beauty of nature - but not without a healthy respect for its power.
Poison Ivy and Stinging Nettle are irritating woodland plants, gnarly roots love to grab unsuspecting feet, biting insects and tiny ticks are extremely competent at their jobs, groundhog holes are nearly always invisible until a foot stumbles into one, and trees and branches "really" do fall in the woods. Really!
Within the last year, I've been scolded by a groundhog, snorted at by a young buck, dived-bombed by an angry, Red-tailed Hawk and run out of the woods by a protective, mother Barred Owl. Again, really!
Please visit and visit often. To optimize your experience and protect the woodland - stay on designated paths. For safety, do not walk the woods during severe wind or rain storms.